When Should You Go to the Doctor for a Dog Bite?

You should go to the doctor immediately after being bitten by a dog, according to the Merck Manual. A dog bite that scratches, breaks, or punctures your skin can leave you susceptible to dangerous infection from the bacteria found in a dog’s mouth.

Your doctor will also want to find out as much information as possible about the dog that bit you to determine your risk of rabies infection. If the dog has not been vaccinated for rabies, or if the dog cannot be identified, your doctor will want to treat you for rabies prevention without delay.

How a Doctor Will Treat a Dog Bite

Seek immediate emergency medical care as soon as possible after you or a member of your family is bitten by a dog. A dog’s mouth is full of bacteria that can be extremely dangerous to you. When you go to the doctor for a dog bite, the immediate treatment you can expect to receive includes:

  • Thorough wound cleaning
  • Topical repairs of torn skin
  • Stitches or other wound closures, if needed
  • Medications to prevent infection
  • A tetanus shot, if needed

In some cases, dog bite injuries might also require corrective cosmetic surgery. The aftermath of a dog bite can also leave the bite victim in emotional turmoil that requires care and treatment as part of the recovery process. In addition, you might also require extensive treatment for rabies prevention.

The Cost of Rabies Prevention After a Dog Bite

One important reason why the answer to the question “When should you go to the doctor for a dog bite?” is “Immediately” is the chance of a rabies infection. Because there is no effective way to treat rabies and rabies infections are nearly always fatal, your doctor will focus on taking measures to prevent you from developing rabies. Symptoms of rabies usually do not appear for at least 30 days, but if you receive treatment soon after being bitten by a dog, your chances of developing rabies are typically eliminated.

If the dog that bit you is unvaccinated or cannot be found or identified, your doctor may perform the following tests to evaluate your risk of rabies contamination:

  • Skin biopsy
  • Saliva test
  • Spinal tap

The treatment for preventing rabies is a series of numerous injections of the rabies vaccine over the course of several weeks. The cost of the treatment to prevent rabies, along with the required medication and the “pain and suffering” and inconvenience of the treatment, could be recoverable in a personal injury lawsuit against the owner of the dog.

Pursue the Dog’s Owner for the Cost of Your Treatments

Owning a dog is a serious responsibility in Virginia. The state holds dog owners responsible for the actions of their animals. Especially if the dog that bit you has previously bitten someone else, the owner is likely liable for the costs of treating the injuries caused by their pet.

In addition to the cost of medical treatments, the dog’s owner can also be held responsible for any income loss you experience, the “pain and suffering” and inconvenience that remain with you, scarring, and other forms of physical disfigurement, and any disability that stems from the bite.

The cost of treating and recovering from a dog bite should fall to the owner of the dog, not to you or your family. A lawyer can help you understand the full range of expenses and financial losses you can recover with an insurance settlement or lawsuit.

File for Financial Compensation on Time

The physical scarring, fear, and emotional turmoil that follow a bite or attack by a dog can lead to weeks of recovery time for you or a family member. While you recover or care for your child or another family member who is recovering from a dog bite, the clock for filing a lawsuit is ticking.

In Virginia, the statute of limitations (§ 8.01-243) for filing a lawsuit for financial compensation in a dog bite case is generally two years. Compiling medical bills, income statements, local laws, and other relevant information to prove your claim takes time. While you focus on physical and emotional recovery, your lawyer can focus on building your case and fighting for the financial recovery you deserve.

Get Financial Compensation From the Dog’s Owner

If you, your child, or another family member was bitten by a dog, you should seek medical attention without delay. As soon as possible after your injuries are treated, contact a law firm in your area.

You are entitled to seek financial recovery from the owner of the dog who bit you or someone you love. Contact the Parrish Law Firm, PLLC at (571) 229-1800 to speak to a member of our team today.

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